Usually adult education advocates send their reports to politicians. They have half an hour meetings, or they try to link up with them at conferences. Annelie Roswall Ljunggren and the SAEA of Sweden did something else. They took the politicians for a bus ride to a number of the institutions of the non-formal adult education.
“We showed them what we are actually doing, and they got the chance to talk to teachers, study circle leaders and participants,” Annelie Roswalls Ljunggren told the conference.
Among the examples that she mentioned was a group of migrant women learning Swedish and another group of people with mental health problems who learned handicraft.
“It was quite an exhausting programme, but we did remember what is absolutely essential in Sweden: the coffee breaks,” she said.
Annelie Roswall Ljunggren also explained why it is so important for the sector to make the politicians aware of the tasks that non-formal adult education takes on and the effects on people’s everyday life.
“The financing depends on grants from the government, the county councils and municipalities. Every year the study associations receives approximately 1.7 million euro from the Government. To maintain that support we have to provide the good arguments and examples, and we must establish good personal contacts,” she said.
Of course the facts are an important part of the advocacy work of SAEA: numbers of participants, courses and meetings.
“Just as important is the story telling; especially when people are telling their own story. That is what we accomplished with the bus tour,” Annelie Roswall Ljunggren said.